Chapter 15: Chopping Wood

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Gu Qingchi went back to his room, taking off his clothes as he walked to the bed.
The tie was the first to be thrown on the floor, then the shirt, the belt, and finally the pants.

This was a bad habit of his.
He was never able to change it, even if it caused him more trouble the next day.

He always felt so relieved when he dropped those things to the floor.
It felt like a butterfly finally freeing its wings from its cocoon. 

Gu Qingchi let himself fall onto the bed.

The moment he had arrived on set, he recognized Xie Luyu immediately.

It would’ve been stranger if he hadn’t recognized him.
He had seen so many of Xie Luyu’s advertisements on billboards.
The subway was also filled with ads of him.

The universe sure was strange, wasn't it?

A person who could only be seen from a poster through the window suddenly appeared in front of you alive and well.

The Xie Luyu who had been an abstract idea suddenly took on a concrete image.

In the past, Xie Luyu was just a contact in his phone to Gu Qingchi.
Calls would never be answered, text messages would never be answered, but at least he would never disappear.

He was a prison and a lighthouse.

If Gu Qingchi was a snail, then he was Gu Qingchi's shell, giving him both a heavy burden and complete protection.

Xie Luyu was special to Gu Qingchi.

It was impossible for Gu Qingchi to treat Xie Luyu as if nothing had happened, interacting with him as he does with everyone else.

Even after he decided to leave everything behind and move forward, he still couldn’t do it.

But it didn't matter.
He had already left everything and walked out.

He already made it through such difficult days.

How hard could the rest of them be?

******

The next day, the program team started recording early in the morning.
At nine o'clock, they started knocking on the doors of the guests.

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When Xie Luyu arrived at the dining room, Huang Hanyu and the two girls had already arrived.

There were five sets of breakfast on the table.
Breakfast was a glass of milk and a sandwich.
It looked like instant food bought from a convenience store, which looked rather unappetizing.

This would be the only meal provided by the program team during the four-day filming process.
They would have to be self-reliant in the future.

Chen Yueran’s eyes lit when she saw Xie Luyu.
She was secretly a complete fangirl.
She was the kind that would check in1 every day and blow money on her idol.
However, even if she spent money, she would spend it in a very healthy manner.

The main reason was because her idol was too capable, so there was no need for her to blow money on him.

Xie Luyu was her idol.
Because of her idol, she was single-mindedly devoted to acting.

Currently, the only thing she was blowing money on was tickets to rewatch his movies a couple more times.
Sometimes, she wasn’t even able to snatch a ticket fast enough before they were sold out.

And, from another point of view, there was nothing wrong with her being a fan of Xie Luyu.
She was even able to get the support of her parents.

No actor could say no to Xie Luyu.

In this regard, Xie Luyu stood at the top like a god.
He was someone to be revered.

Although she was not a serious actress—she was just a half-assed actress who happened to enter the industry—but this was Xie Luyu! The real Xie Luyu!

She was satisfied, she was complete. 

Chen Yueran put down the sandwich that she had taken a bite out of and happily pulled out a chair for Xie Luyu.
She deliberately pulled out the chair next to her.

“Hello, Xie ge, take a seat.”

Xie Luyu laughed.

“You can't do that.
I’m gonna end up in jail if you start a cult for me.”

The group laughed and started chatting.

Not long after Xie Luyu arrived, he heard a staff member gasp.

The chatter suddenly disappeared.
The only sound in the silent dining room was the sound of Xie Luyu putting down his glass against the table, as well as the sound of the camera.

Finally, there was also the sound of someone coming down the stairs.
The pace was unhurried, even the pauses between steps were the same.
You could almost imagine a person absentmindedly walking down the stairs, step by step, just by listening to the sound of the footsteps.

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Xie Luyu turned around unconsciously.

Gu Qingchi's hair was still tied up like yesterday.

He was wearing a loose-fitting black sleeveless shirt on his upper body, exposing his collarbone, shoulders, and neck.
The pattern on the front was a white skull.
The sides of the shirt had open slits, and a faint glimpse of white skin could be seen.

The pants on his lower body were also black.
They tightly hugged his straight and long calves, but they were slightly looser around his thighs.
There were many metal details around the belt.
Even if you disregarded the other accessories, there were still at least two or three metal chains.
He wore the pants with a pair of lace-up ankle boots.

The clothes and accessories were all arranged by the sponsor.

Gu Qingchi wore a woven rope necklace around his neck.
It had a brown stone adorning it, like a malicious devil's eye.

He had both of his hands in his pockets, looked down at the stairs, and leisurely made his way down.
The loose hair by his ears swayed gently.

When Gu Qingchi entered the dining room, Xie Luyu realized that the back of the sleeveless shirt had a hole.
His shoulder blades could be glimpsed as he moved.
The bottom of the shirt also had a gap and was strung together by a few pieces of fabric.
His lower back was exposed, dazzlingly white.

Yesterday, Gu Qingchi was a rose in a garden at night, silently blooming, hiding his warmth in the darkness.
He was subtle and inconspicuous, but, once your eyes landed on him, you couldn’t look away.

Today, he was like a brilliant diamond that began to sparkle under the lights, catching everyone’s attention from the very beginning.

Everyone stared at him with amazement, but they didn't dare to approach him directly.
His attractiveness was like a knife’s edge.
They could only hurriedly lower their heads and surrender to his beauty.

The main character of it all turned a blind eye to this.
It was as if he wasn’t even aware of how much of a treasure he was.

When he pulled out a chair to sit, the sound of the chair scraping across the floor broke the silence.

It was as if everyone had suddenly woken up, freed from that sudden stop in time, and went on to do what they were doing.

Afterward, the group finished their breakfast quietly.

Gu Qingchi didn’t eat much of his sandwich, but he finished all of his milk.

Chen Yueran broke the silence first.
She blushed and clenched one hand into a small fist.

She had already silently screamed in her heart several times.
Yesterday, she had been busy secretly taking photos of Gu Qingchi, secretly taking photos of Xie Luyu.
After struggling with herself for a bit, she decided to take photos of both equally.

But her idol was still her idol.
After all, her mother, her father, even her extended family were urging her to get them Xie Luyu's signature.

Today, her heart, which was already teetering, completely turned to someone else.

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Facing her empty plate, Chen Yueran remorsefully apologized to her idol in her heart.
Sorry, I’m going to stan someone else, she secretly said to herself.

Then, she turned to Gu Qingchi, smiling like a dazzling sunflower.

She was a little nervous.
Her face revealed some of her apprehensive feelings that she herself didn’t even notice.

Chen Yueran had always been very big-hearted.
She looked like the girl next door, but she was actually a bit of a jokester.
She had always had a lot of friends around her.
This was the first time she was so solemn while making friends.

“Can I call you Xiao Chi?”

Then, she added another sentence.

“You can call me Xiao Ran or Xiao Yue.
You could also call me Xiao Chen, but that sounds a little distant2.
Personally, I prefer Xiao Ran.”

Before Gu Qingchi could speak, Xie Luyu lifted her by the collar and pulled her away.

“What are you talking about, distant? This is the first time you guys have met, isn’t it natural to be unfamiliar? We’re all one family—no, one program crew.
Don't get too close, pay attention to scandals, be careful of your mom beating you when you get home.”

Chen Yueran hadn’t really let loose yesterday, appearing very gentle and quiet.
However, today, she gradually revealed a bit of her true nature.

She naturally played along with Xie Luyu’s jokes.

She let herself be pulled away by Xie Luyu.
However, her hands were stretched forward, and she kept trying to move forward.

“If I can have a scandal with Xiao Chi, then that means I’ve made it! If I can get with a guy like that, my mom won’t have any reason to beat me.
She should be making dumplings for me for catching such a great guy, meat dumplings.”

Chen Yueran waved her hands through the air.

“Don't stop me, let me touch his hand to see if he’s real.”

Then, the hand that had been waving in the air for a long time finally held onto slender fingers.
She subconsciously grabbed onto them.

Gu Qingchi supported his chin with one hand and slightly swayed the other hand, which was being held by Chen Yueran.

He slightly turned his head to look at her.
His eyes and eyebrows were curved, revealing a subtle smile.
Then, he withdrew his hand.

Chen Yueran was stunned.
Then, she looked down at her hand again.

She almost burst into tears on the spot.
Wuwuwu3, how can he be so good?

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Mom, I met the person I want to marry!

After they were done messing around, a staff member came to assign tasks.

There was a total of four cards on the table.

The staff revealed them one by one.

“The first task is to chop wood.
The task requires one person.
The second task is to water the vegetable garden.
The task requires one person.
The third task is to clean the living room and dining room.
The task requires one person.”

“Finally, the fourth task is to cook meals, including lunch and dinner, so the task requires two people.”

Zhou Yingying grabbed the cooking task card first and smiled.

“We’re girls, so we won’t be doing stuff like cutting wood or watering plants, but we’ll still do our part to cook.”

No one had any objections.
The relatively easier tasks were just the cooking and cleaning tasks.

Next to pick should have been Xie Luyu, but he gestured his hand at Gu Qingchi and Huang Hanyu, signaling them to go first.

Then, Huang Hanyu picked the card for watering the vegetable garden.

“I think this one should be fun.
Qingchi, which one are you gonna pick?”

Gu Qingchi silently picked the card for chopping wood.

Xie Luyu’s eyes widened.
What a headache.

He originally wanted to leave the cleaning task to Gu Qingchi.
That one was easy.

Then Gu Qingchi picked the card for chopping wood.

Footnotes:

Celebrities often have super topics on Weibo in which fans can “check in” everyday. ↩

Because Chen is her surname, not her given name, so it sounds rather distant/unfamiliar. ↩

Crying sound effect. ↩

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